Interview & Book Giveaway: Author Douglas E. Richards

I’m thrilled to welcome author Douglas E. Richards to my site today. This is a fun interview & giveaway for me to host. Prior to beginning this blog, back when I was only reviewing on Goodreads, Doug was the very first author that ever approached me and offered to send me a copy of his book to review. Doug has agreed to an interview and then has 4 copies of his book The Prometheus Project: Trapped to giveaway to followers of this blog.

Bio: Douglas E. Richards has written extensively for National Geographic KIDS and American Fencing magazines. His Prometheus Project series has been called “perfect for middle grades,” by Teaching K-8 magazine, is listed as “recommended literature” by the California Department of Education, and has been praised by Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and many others. Because the books contain accurate, mind-expanding science, they have been endorsed by the AAAS, the Science Teachers Association of New York State, and similar associations in eight other states. In recognition of his work, Richards was selected to join Ray Bradbury, Stan Lee, and Rick Riordan at Comic-Con in San Diego this year, where he presented on how to write can’t-put-down thrillers with universal appeal. To learn more visit his WEBSITE.

Is there any interesting, behind the scenes, information you can share with us about your series?
When I wrote the first book I named the main characters after my 9 and 11 year old children, Ryan and Regan. I didn’t know it at the time, but this decision ensured that both kids were equally brilliant and heroic. If Ryan saved the day too many times, my daughter would complain, and vice-versa. If you were to count how often Ryan saves the day, and how often Regan does, over the entire series, it is identical (believe me, I’ve done it).

What was Comic-Con like?
It was awesome! I signed books for hundreds of kids, which was great fun, although I was too busy to see attendees like Angelina Jolie, Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford. Funny story. My daughter doesn’t like sci-fi, fantasy, or comic books, so when I was invited, she only wanted to go to see my presentation. I told her she would get VIP treatment, have a special badge for the entire 4 days, etc. but she still didn’t have any interest. A week later she learned that Glee would be there. This is her favorite TV show, about a high school glee club. Suddenly Dad was a hero. Then, weeks later, when the schedule came out, Glee was scheduled at the exact hour my presentation was scheduled. What are the odds! I told Regan she should go to Glee, since she could always see her father, but she wouldn’t do it. She said she wanted to be supportive. I was really touched by this.

You write about technology thousands of years more advanced than ours. Are you a tech-geek?
Just the opposite. I’m a dinosaur. Believe it or not, I’ve never even sent a single text message. I try to console myself that I’m in good company. Isaac Asimov wrote of space travel but was afraid of flying. I did set up a Facebook page recently, though, because my sister wouldn’t stop bugging me until I did. It’s called Douglas E. Richards Author. If anyone wants to visit, I definitely welcome all “friend” requests.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose? Teleportation. I love visiting different places, but I really hate traveling. Two interesting thoughts about this answer. First, I read a sci-fi story ages ago in which society had invented a teleportation machine (like on Star Trek) and it was a disaster. People could pop in on you at any time, no matter how far away they lived. It was as if your parents, siblings, boss, annoying workmates, and in-laws all lived as close as the house next door. It was an amusing take on the subject. Secondly, I realize how silly it is that I just complained about modern travel, which allows me to go coast to coast in 5 hours, when at one time this took months. There is a scene in a Jetsons cartoon I saw as a kid that I’ve never forgotten, because it made such a powerful, accurate statement about human nature. In the scene, the mom pushes a button and within seconds an automated system instantly gathers up all dirty clothing from around the house, washes it, dries it, folds it, and puts it away. The mom pushes a single button, everything is done for her in an instant, and then she turns to the camera with a frown and says, “Boy I hate doing laundry.”

Do you ever write non-fiction?
Yes. Fairly often. Recently I’ve written articles on The Secret to Happiness for the BBC and BCS Kids, and even an article on the reading gap between boys and girls for Today’s Parent Online. This latter came about because I kept getting reviewers who said my books were perfect for boys. This was frustrating to me, since the feedback from girls, and even adults, had been quite good, and I wondered, why are they trying to narrow the audience? Only later did I learn that boys lag behind girls in all fifty states and in 45 of 45 countries studied by the US Dept of Education, and that many parents, educators, and booksellers are always on the lookout for books with boy appeal. I hadn’t known this issue existed, since I was a voracious reader and so is my son, but now that I do it has really changed by perspective.

When you were 12 years old what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a famous author. But I went on to get a master’s degree in molecular biology and business and become a biotech executive, until I finally decided to go for it. Now I’m halfway there. I’ve got the author part done. As far as the famous part . . . not so much (but I’m working on it).

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
Isaac Asimov. He was my favorite author as a kid, with an encyclopedic knowledge of . . . well . . . everything. He wrote over 400 books on every subject you can name (mythology, history, science, math, Shakespeare, etc.). Also, I developed a passion for science, not from what I was learning in school, but from the fast paced, mind blowing sci-fi I was reading, written by accomplished scientists like Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I’ve tried to write my books in this tradition.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
There are so many choices. It really depends on my mood. But I have to say “Deep Chocolate Peanut Butter” is right up there.

What is the last movie you saw?
The Social Network, the fictionalized story of Facebook. Being technology challenged as I am, I was fascinating by it. The only way it could have been better is if it were completely accurate, rather than fictionalized.

Is there anything you need in order to write?
A plot. For me, the writing is the easy part. It’s figuring out the plot that has me pulling out my hair, since I demand a lot from my plots. Also a computer. Many of you won’t remember the days of the typewriter, but there was no spellcheck, and no rearranging words and paragraphs as often as you wanted until you got it right. It was a nightmare. If you typed one wrong letter you had to use a correcting ribbon or paint “white-out” over your mistake. More often than not, it looked horrible and you had to begin the entire page over again. Anyone who can write a book on a typewriter is truly amazing—I know I couldn’t.

Douglas E. Richards is the author of The Prometheus Project Series which currently has 3 books:
The Prometheus Project: TrappedThe Prometheus Project: CapturedThe Prometheus Project: Stranded
Doug’s newest book The Devil’s Sword will be released on November 3rd:
The Devil's Sword
FYI – There is currently a giveaway for The Devil’s Sword on Goodreads (ends 11/23)

Doug has generously offered to send 4 followers of this blog a copy of the first book in The Prometheus Project Series:

The Prometheus Project: Trapped
Ryan and Regan Resnick have just moved to the world’s most boring place. But when they discover their parents are part of an ultra-secret project called Prometheus they are plunged into a nonstop adventure: one that will be the ultimate test of their wit, courage, and determination.
Soon they are under attack and facing hostile alien worlds, alien technology, and unimaginable dangers at every turn. Now, with their mother facing certain death, they must race to solve a seemingly impossible mystery to have any hope of saving her. But if they save their mom, they will have no way to save themselves. . .

Giveaway is open to followers of this blog who have a US mailing address.
Giveaway ends on 11/27/10.
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